Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Luke & AT&T

As readers of this blog probably know, I have an iPhone (incidentally, the problems that I complained about back in August were solved by the 2.1 firmware that came out in early September). My service is with AT&T. For the most part, I've been reasonably pleased with my AT&T service. However, there is one major problem and AT&T needs to step up, acknowledge the problem, and fix it. The problem, you ask? AT&T doesn't have coverage inside The Luke.

When I'm at a Colts game, my iPhone is useless (at least for phone calls, emails, text messages, or the Internet; I can still do my sudoku puzzles...). And I'm not alone. I sit with a number of AT&T cell users and we're all in the same boat (I'm curious to know if anyone else with AT&T has cell reception at The Luke). The odd thing, though, is that my phone thinks that it has service. We've all been in areas without cell coverage (or good cell coverage) and seen the number of "bars" on our phones drop to 2 or 1 or 0. That isn't happening at The Luke; in fact, my phone continues to register 5 bars. Similarly, when I'm in an area without 3G coverage, my phone switches to the Edge network and the 3G icon is replaced by an E (for Edge). Again, that's not happening at The Luke; the 3G icon is still being displayed. But I can't make a call, I can't receive a call, I can't send or receive a text message, and I have very, very intermittent connectivity to the Internet (every hour or so, I may be able to connect for a minute or two). My wife has a rare illness (that can send her into anaphylactic shock without much warning), so being somewhere with no phone coverage is not a good situation.

So what gives? I've received two different stories. I spoke the IT people at The Luke. They tell me that they are aware of the problem and that it is due to the fact that AT&T hasn't signed the contract for the cell service tower. AT&T, on the other hand, after "researching" the issue for a few days, told me that it was something that their engineers were "working on" and that it would be fixed by the first quarter of 2009. Maybe I'm wrong, but my hunch is that AT&T hasn't paid The Luke and is looking for a workaround. After all, if there weren't any service, my phone would show 0 bars and would not show the 3G connection. It seems that the phone and the antenna are talking to each other (hence the bars and 3G icon) but the antenna isn't talking to AT&T's network.

For what it's worth, when I look at AT&T's cell coverage map, I don't see a big gaping hole around The Luke; instead, the nice bright orange of "best coverage" covers the entire area (and the entire area is shown with 3G coverage, too). If AT&T is using this map to help sell its cellular services, knowing that it doesn't have coverage in The Luke, then isn't the use of a map that AT&T knows to be incorrect the perpetration of a fraud?

In the meantime, those of us with AT&T service have no telephone service when we're at events in The Luke. That is outrageous and intolerable. And, for people in my situation, dangerous.

I think that the only way to solve this problem is going to be for everyone with AT&T service who attends events at The Luke (or who might attend an event at The Luke) to pick up the phone, call AT&T, and demand that the problem be solved (AT&T's support phone number: 800-331-0500). So long as only a handful of people are complaining to AT&T, it will be easy for AT&T to ignore the complainers and the problem. But if those complaints turn into a loud enough chorus, then AT&T just might be forced to listen. And if anyone in the press were to write about the issue... Maybe, if the problem continues, we can organize a rally outside AT&T's building in downtown Indianapolis before a Colts game (ah, the power of wishful thinking).

If you have AT&T service and have experienced coverage problems at The Luke, please leave me a comment and tell me where in the stadium you sit and whether you're able to get any connections. I'm curious to know how many people this problem affects.

I know that I said that I wouldn't refer to The Luke by its proper name, however, I'm briefly breaking that promise solely so that Google and other search engines can find this entry if someone searches for Lucas Oil Stadium.


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At Thursday, October 16, 2008 3:33:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have NO coverage with my AT&T iPhone in or around The Luke. I will call today to complain but something needs to be done. It drives me nuts not to be able to use my phone at halftime.


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